What happened to Marie Elizabeth Spannhake? True story behind Unsolved Mysteries case
Volume 3 of Unsolved Mysteries looks at the 18-year-old's disappearance and suspected murder.
In the episode titled The Ghost in Apartment 14, we meet single mother Jodi Foster who claims that a flat she moved into was occupied by the ghost of Marie Elizabeth Spannhake, a woman who went missing in 1976.
But who is Marie Elizabeth Spannhake, also known as Marliz, and what happened to her? Here's everything we know about the unsolved case.
What happened to Marie Elizabeth Spannhake?
Marie Elizabeth Spannhake, also known as Marliz, was a young woman living in Chico, California who went missing in 1976 at the age of 18.
She was last seen on 31st January 1976 and according Al Shamblin, the retired chief of police at Red Bluff Police Department, her missing persons report detailed that she had visited a flea market with her boyfriend but decided to walk home after they got into an argument.
Spannhake is alleged by his former wife to have been abducted and killed by Cameron Hooker, who in 1985 was sentenced to 104 years in prison for kidnapping and raping Californian woman Colleen Stan.
As described in Unsolved Mysteries, in 7th November 1984, Hooker's wife Janice alleged to Shamblin that her husband had also kidnapped and killed Spannhake. "Janice's reasoning to come forward was that she was afraid of Cameron and also Janice had a lot of guilt built up from what had occurred over the years at different times," Shamblin said in the documentary.
Janice was granted immunity for her cooperation and she alleged that on 31st January 1976, she was driving with her husband when they offered Spannhake a lift in their car. However, she claimed that Cameron stopped Spannhake from leaving the car and put a head box on her to prevent her from being heard.
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According to Janice's statement, her husband began torturing Spannhake and allegedly tried to cut her vocal cords to prevent her from screaming, but stopped after she began bleeding heavily. He took Spannhake down to the basement, where Janice reportedly found her hanging from the ceiling, with "a noose around [her] neck" and a pillow case over her head. The couple later allegedly drove Spannhake's body near Lassen Volcanic National Park and buried it in a shallow grave.
Cameron and Janice kidnapped Colleen Stan in 1977 and she was kept as a sex slave for seven years, during which time she was kept in a box under the Hookers' bed in their Red Bluff home. Stan managed to escape in August 1984 and later reiterated what Janice had said to the police, adding that Cameron had a picture of Spannhake in their home.
However, since Spannhake's body was never found, the district attorney's office felt that there was not enough information to pursue the murder charge against Cameron, who denies any involvement in the disappearance or murder of Spannhake.
Hooker was sentenced to consecutive prison terms totalling 104 years for sexual assaults, kidnapping, and the use of a knife relating to the kidnapping of Stan, with the judge describing him as "the worst psychopath I have ever dealt with".
Where are Cameron and Janice Hooker now?
Cameron Hooker was sentenced to 104 years in prison in 1985 for the kidnapping and rape of Colleen Stan. He became eligible for parole in 2015 due to California's Elderly Parole Programme - but his request was denied.
He was scheduled to return to court on 14th September 2022 to address his parole according to The Sun, however no further information about the proceedings has been released.
Tehama County district attorney Matthew Rogers said in June: "Because of changes to California sentencing law, his sentence was reduced down based on changes to credit calculations and things like that.
"A judge heard the evidence from the state doctors and ... determined that there is probable cause to believe that Hooker does meet the definition of a sexually violent predator."
Hooker is due to go to trial to determine whether he should be labelled a sexually violent predator. If the court finds him to be an SVP, he will be confined to a state mental health facility. He could be later released if officials determine he has been rehabilitated.
According to Crime + Investigation, Janice Hooker now has a new identity and went on to raise her two children in relative anonymity.